Danny Paradise – Ashtanga and Shamanism
“Yoga should always be relaxed” says Danny Paradise, who cuts a very atypical image of a world-renowned and highly practised yoga teacher with a lazy 30+ years of experience.
One of the things I love about Danny Paradise is that he just doesn’t look like a yoga teacher (in my mind anyway) – and certainly not the muscular, lean figure that many people sport from practising Ashtanga Yoga.
But Danny is anything but conventional as exemplified by his classes.
Flanked by his two assistants Anastasis and Marcus, Danny commenced with a half-hour talk on shamanism and yoga. Sporting a pair of mustard brown batik shots and a head mike concealed by his unruly mop of dark hair with silver threads, he began by talking about yoga as a path to recognising personal authority and personal responsibility. He later returned to this theme and linked it with shamanism as a practise of restoring your ability to communicate directly with nature.
Danny talks from his own experience of exploring yoga since the 1970s. His personal flavour is definitely one of exploration rather than a path that is set in stone.
“Though Yoga is an ancient teaching it is open to interpretation in all eras and by everyone who enters in to the eploration of finding who they really are and what is their ever-evolving place in this endless creation”.
After drawing threads of connection between the wisdom traditions and shamanic practices of the Mayans, Tibetans, American Indians and the sadhus and yogis of India we set about practicing Astanga Yoga as taught by Danny Paradise.
We began with a practice to strengthen the digestion and aid elimination. At this point I was so transfixed by Marcus’ rippling abdomen as he exhaled all of his breath and rippled his stomach that I completely failed to write down the name of the exercise. No doubt something long and sanskrit, it’s a practice I’m sure all serious yogis will know. After the demo we all stood up, place our hands on our knees, relaxed our bellies, blew out all of our breath and alternately drew up and relaxed our bellies until our breath ran out.
From there we practiced a series of traditional Ashtanga poses with a few variations thrown in. Danny’s gentle manner, mild jokes (“I learnt this pose from superman”) and his understated way encouraged us to experience yoga for ourselves rather than simply accept everything as a given just because it was coming from a teacher.
Later in the class we practiced some Egyptian poses which were just like the hieroglyphics in Egyptian temples. He also showed us a Grecian pose which was aptly demonstrated by Anastasis, his Greek assistant. Sporting a long, trimmed white beard and a lithe, tanned and muscular body, Anastasis is certainly looking better than men half his age (which is 95 according to Danny).
One of the points in Danny’s talk was that the practice of yoga allows you to age with vitality and clarity. Anastasis certainly exemplified this, as did his other assistant Marcus. And Danny Paradise shows no signs of slowing down either.
The class was packed 10 minutes before he started. Given that it was the first day of the festival you’ll have to be quick to get a good spot for your mat as the days roll on.
Written by : Russel Price